Embrace – Learning to love our bodies

Last year I finally started something that I’ve been thinking about for years. I’ve photographed many mothers over the years, with their children and families plus the occasional head shot. I had a vision to create a safe place for women to come together and begin a journey of self acceptance, to learn to love themselves.

This was far more than creating beautiful images, though of course I had pictured it all in my mind! This was about sharing stories, a break away from the children to focus on ourselves (yes I got sharing too!) and permission to really begin thinking about why we can think so negatively about ourselves. One thing rang true to all of us; there is no way we would speak to the women that we love in ways that we speak to ourselves. Our inner voices have literally been bullying us for years. Time for that to stop!

One of the reasons I hadn’t offered these sessions sooner was that I wanted the location to be private. I wanted to allow these wonderful ladies to let go of their inhibitions, to express themselves fully. Now that I have access to a private farm location this was all made possible. And what better place than a glowing field of oilseed rape. Yellow for me is a colour of hope and new beginnings, like Spring it is time to leave things behind and start afresh. Plus a perfectly place blossom for coverage!

I packed my bags with wine, chocolates, cake and blankets. I was so excited to start something new, to realise a dream of empowering women through my art. I couldn’t wait to welcome them all. We made our way to the field from our cars, some nervous laughter filled the lane as we walked. We’d already started to get to know each other, talking about our children, as you do when you’re out the house without them!

I set out the blankets, placed a tray in the middle with glasses of wine and a varied choice of chocolates and treats. It was time to get talking! I started by telling my ladies all about why I wanted to do this and how I saw the shoot going, a bit of an ice breaker. I asked them to each share their stories, to share as little or as much as they felt comfortable with, the reason why they wanted to take part. Thinking back to that beautiful evening last Spring I can’t help but smile. Not a little smile either, one that literally hurts my cheeks! For here were 5 women from different backgrounds, with varied parenting styles, who had experienced all sorts of issue in their lives, truly listening to each other. I felt so much love pouring from these women. It wasn’t about offering each other advice or tips to overcome anything. It was to be listened to, nobody interrupting you, no children to distract your thoughts. Just 5 women in a field listening and caring for one another.

Shooting time!

It’s true to say that all women are different, but mostly we’re all a bit shy when it comes to showing off our post pregnancy bodies. That is until a bunch of women totally have your back and start shouting words of encouragement and love your way! Natural smiles appear, a change in your posture, laughter. There is honestly nothing like your fellow sisters supporting you and showering you with love.

I could go on and on about how proud I am of these 4 wonderful women, you showed me that this wasn’t just a dream. I can and will continue to make it my mission to empower my fellow women whenever I can. Whether it’s complimenting a school mum in the morning, encouraging Mums to get in the frame with their children because they matter too or simply telling someone how beautiful and strong they are. For now I give you my Embrace ladies, may their images encourage you to start your own journey of self love and to leave those negative thoughts behind. Look in the mirror tomorrow and find something you love. Own that you have an amazing pair of boobs, beautiful eyes, a nice round bum, strong arms, power within, marks that show you carried your babies, surgery scars that show you’re still here fighting. Would you tell your best friend that she’s ugly (or insert all the other things you say to yourself in the mirror daily) Nope, I thought not!

 

-Anna-

I wanted to take part to move forward. Since becoming a mum I’ve gained a true and deep gratitude for my body. I am now peaceful about the changes it has been though. I wanted to contribute to normalising all that is glorious about our amazing bodies!

It meant the world to me to be standing there in that beautiful place side by side with these incredible women! I loved seeing how easily we can all lift one another up and help each other love ourselves a little more. Incredible experience

 

-Lucy-

 

I wanted to take part to push my own boundaries and to try to move further towards self acceptance within a supportive environment.

It felt liberating and freeing. Like why should we hide what we have. Our bodies are the way nature intended so why not embrace them in nature.

 

-Gemma-

 

I wanted to take part to start accepting my body for the amazing things it has done, especially in the past couple of years. I wanted to feel (for the first time in a long time) the freedom of inhibition – I think we all achieved that! It meant so much to me to have people look and me and see me for more than some rolls of fat. The women I met at this session were beautiful inside and out, strong and unique, all with their own story to tell. It was an enlightening experience. All mothers should take part in something like this

 

-Sarah-

 

I want to learn to accept my body with all its lumps and bumps. I may not be a super model or TOWIE wannabe but I am AMAZING! More than anything I want to set a good example to my daughter, I never want her to feel inadequate or not good enough. The society we now live in is so image obsessed and I worry about the children of today and how they’ll cope.
This morning I managed to look at myself in the mirror and say I like my waist…a massive break through! Thank you ladies for helping me feel more confident in myself. Xx

We laughed, we shared, we shouted at the top of our lungs – some swear words may have been encouraged too! Just amazing. Now a couple of these ladies may have decided to run naked in the field. Though I am not expecting anyone to do this they tell me that it was one of the most liberating experiences of their lives!

Ladies you are so incredibly strong, let me show you just how beautiful and worthy you are. I can’t wait to meet you, give you space to be you and to listen to you with open ears. Hugs are here if you need them.

I’m looking to organise a few of these sessions through 2018. You are welcome to bare as much or as little as you like, the aim is to begin or continue your journey into self acceptance and love. This private farm is the perfect location for a more intimate experience like this but I am considering other locations (beach and woodland) for a similar experience plus a little extra clothing!

 

Want to join me?

Dates will be available very soon, once I’ve settled on locations. I’d love to offer you the chance to experience this with women who have been through something similar to you. Perhaps you’re a cancer survivor or have been through multiple surgeries. You might have one child, a team like me (haha!), be a single mother in need of some empowerment. Maybe you suffer from anxiety and would love to push your boundaries. Or do you simply fancy a giggle with a bunch of women who will totally have your back. This could even be a hen party idea or gather your Mum friends together.

Sessions are £99 and include guidance of how to prepare for our session, drinks, yummy snacks and 2 digital images. (Further images and prints can be purchased once you’ve viewed your private online gallery). You will also be invited to join my private Facebook group just for ladies taking part in these sessions so you can “meet” each other beforehand and hear from ladies that have already taken part in a similar session.

A little look behind the scenes… (Yes, there’s me shooting in my bra!)

 

 

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